06/03/2024
The Matildas will get another chance to showcase who they really are against Canada. PHOTO: Matildas - Twitter

The Matildas will get another chance to showcase who they really are against Canada. PHOTO: Matildas - Twitter

The Matildas will be able to respond to their heavy defeat in Canada last week when the two nations face off again in another friendly on Wednesday.

Electing to field an inexperienced and youthful starting lineup, Australia were blown away 5-0 by the Canadians in what was a one-sided affair.

Coach Tony Gustavsson was heavily criticised for leaving his team out to dry against a side seeking revenge after their World Cup exit at the hands of the Matildas.

On the eve of round two, Gustavsson confirms that preparations are running according to plan.

“[We] had a very good training session today. Being at BC Place in this stadium is amazing and obviously it brings back some old memories from eight years ago,” he said.

“The team has pulled up well since the last game; a lot of video sessions to look at the game, a lot of small group meetings and some individual meetings, and then two good trainings, especially today with the intensity and the focus looked very sharp, so it’s been good preparation.”

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The Matildas boss also says his controversial line-up in the opening game was in the interest of the players.

“As a coach, you know what it’s like when you lose a game – either get criticised for explaining what you’re doing or get criticised for the explanation you gave.

“We need to be very respectful of these players because I think they were extremely professional in this last game to go all in and try things.

“I know some people say, ‘Is this fair to the players to give them this type of experience?’, but they love it and this is what they want.

“They want to play against top teams and they want to learn. As long as I create a safe space for them to get this experience, it’s what they need.

“I wanted to balance that to find some continuity in the lineup because this might be the only camp before the Olympics.

“[For tomorrow’s game], not a different look in terms of identity and what we’re trying to do, but a different look in terms of the lineup,” he said.

“I’m always going to consider player welfare and wellbeing, and we had to have some load management in this camp as well to protect players who have tremendous amounts of load before and after the camp.”

Back in 2015 when Canada hosted the Women’s World Cup, there were expressions of concern about the artificial pitches, especially considering the high amount of knee injuries in women’s football.

Eight years later, the Matildas are back on the same surface against Canada twice in the space of four days.

“We were surprised how well we could play on it today, the technical quality was very good from the players,” Gustavsson said.

“The players did express frustration from the last game and they thought it was very difficult, especially the ones who play on grass week in and week out.

“We have a few players that play in Sweden who have experience playing on turf and it’s been easier for them to adapt and adjust compared to others.”

International-friendly fixtures are important for growth and development to experiment with new ideas and make tactical adjustments.

“What we did learn is that we did force it through [in behind the defence] when maybe we should have played around and over,” Gustavsson said.

“It’s the classic decision-making, so that has nothing to do with the type of lineup it is, it’s about the decision-making.

“You know what it’s like when you focus on something, you tend to just do that. We looked at a lot of patterns to play through, activate the sixes behind the forwards, and break the first line and second line when maybe we could’ve broken three lines with one pass.”

Having scored an astounding 190 goals for Canada in 330 appearances, Christine Sinclair is aiming to bow out of the game on a high against the Matildas.

Sinclair’s incredibly prolific and consistent career is one that Gustavsson holds high respect for.

“She’s one of the biggest players ever to play the game,” he said.

“When this camp is over, [I’m] definitely going to pick up the phone and talk to her and congratulate her on her amazing career.”

The Matildas kick off at 2pm AEDT on Wednesday afternoon for their final match of the year.

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